10 Indian Origin Women Making a Difference in Australia

1-Kaushaliya Vaghela

The biggest and brightest name among many many superwomen of Indian origin in Australia is Kaushaliya Vaghela. The first India-born elected Member of Victorian state parliament.

She wasn’t all for politics, before being elected as an MP, Kaushaliya was working as a Risk and Compliance Manager and prior to that as a scientist in research and diagnostic laboratory. 

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She says, “I came to Australia as an international student to study a master’s of applied science at RMIT in 1998.”

“We Indians form a sizeable community in Victoria, and we felt that the need for our representation in Parliament is imperative.”

“I encourage more and more women to step forward with confidence to join politics and lead the communities with their indepth knowldge and understandings.”

It is time to celebrate women's achievement, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality.
Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.
International Women’s Day is also a chance to look to the ways we can make the world a better, more equitable, place for everyone. 
So, as we celebrate the amazing women in our lives, we should call out gender bias and inequality in all its forms. 

Kaushaliya is a firm believer in family values and stands for the development of the people and their skills. She believes that quality education and healthcare are the keys to bringing more prosperity to the migrant communities specially women of colour.

2- Mitu Bhowmick Lange

If you live in Australia and any part of you says, I love bollywood, you have to know this name Mitu Bhowmick Lange..

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She is one of the most significant contributors to the global outreach of Indian cinema in the past decade, Mitu is Festival Director of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) which was established in 2010.  

IFFM is one of the biggest and most successful Indian film festivals held outside of India. She has also produced Spice Girls of India, which was screened at the London Feminist Film Festival.

Mitu is the Director of Mind Blowing Films a film production and distribution company that specialises in the distribution of Indian films in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. 

3- Ravneet Pawha

Ravneet is elected President of Australia India Business Council (AIBC), Victoria.

She is currently the Global Deputy Vice President and CEO (South Asia) – Deakin University Australia and is an award winner for the prestigious Business Leader of the Year at the India Australia Business and Community Awards 2018.

She has a Master in Education and Training and a Master in Business Administration, a gold medalist in her postgraduate studies.

With over 27 years of experience in the international education sector, Ravneet has been instrumental in establishing global collaborations and strategic partnerships. She has developed Australian Education collaborations specifically for Deakin University in India / South Asia and has contributed to the immense success globally. She is an inspirational leader and a passionate entrepreneur.

4- Pallavi Sharda

Pallavi Sharda is an international film and theatre actress and classical Indian (Bharatha Natyam) dancer. Her film credits include Oscar-nominated film Lion (2016), Bollywood films Begum Jaan (2017) and Hawaizaada (2015), and comedy Australian film Save Your Legs! (2012). She joins the lead cast in the highly anticipated ABC drama Pulse (2017).

She knows what chasing your dreams is all about.  Born March 5 1990, and growing up in Suburban Melbourne Australia, she knew from a very young age she wanted to become a Bollywood actress.

Having trained in the classical dance form of Bharatha Natyam since the age of three, movement is a large part of her performing arts repertoire, particularly her free form fusion dance style which she showcases in her live performances.

Pallavi is the first Australian to break into Bollywood and become a leading lady in the Indian film industry. She is also one of the first Indian-origin Australian actresses to foray into the mainstream Australian film industry and has been a pioneer in the realm of multicultural representation on Australian screens. She is a cultural ambassador when it comes to India-Australia relations, having curated Indian content in Australia for festivals such as White Night, MIFF, and Oz Fest Australia. In 2015 she was the figurehead of Melbourne’s prestigious cultural festival “Moomba”.

5- Seema Chauhan

Seema is your quintessential Super-connector, a seasoned Community and Multicultural champion and an experienced Registered Migration agent ably rolled into one.

She has a real passion for community service. In the COVID19 pandemic, her free visa help service to international students and other temporary workers is recognised widely by the community.

Seema holds an MBA from Griffith University, a Bachelor of Management degree from the University of South Australia, and a Graduate Certificate in Australian Migration Law and Practice. Having migrated to Australia from India over two decades ago, Seema now proudly calls Australia her home.
As a Founder and Co-Dreamer of ‘Abode Australia Migration’, Seema provides migration solutions for potential migrants and helping them fulfill their dreams. To her credit, she has been a featured Migration Expert for SBS Radio – Hindi – an immensely popular radio channel for the Indian diaspora.
See, a was appointed Multicultural Ambassador for the Gold Coast -Commonwealth Games in 2018 More recently in 2020, she was appointed Multicultural Ambassador for the Gold Coast Titans.

What sets Seema apart is her genuine desire to help her network with a Midas touch in a growingly impersonal world. To this effect she served as a 2nd Vice President – GOPIO (Global Organisation People of Indian Origin)- Gold Coast chapter 2019-2020; A non-partisan, secular organization promoting the well-being of the Indian Diaspora around the world.

6-Sheba Nandkeolyar

Sheba is a proud 1st generation migrant entrepreneur, a brand diversity leader & marketer.

She is a passionate champion for Women’s empowerment. A Board Director on Industry and Government Boards, the 1st Woman National Chair of the Australia India Business Council ( 2016-2018) in its 34 years history & the current National Chair of Women in Business AIBC.

Sheba lives her dream assisting marketers to brand affiliate with diverse & multicultural audiences. Sheba is the founder of MultiConnexions Group which focuses on Brand Diversity through integrated marketing communication, advertising & digital marketing.

Sheba founded Global Connexions a company that assists Australian companies with their international market expansion plans and Multicultural & Diversity Audits.

She loves mentoring young people & sharing industry experience at Business schools. 

7- Tara RajKumar

Tara is the director of the Natya Sudha Dance Company and School that she established in 1986 in Melbourne.

She has a distinguished international reputation as a brilliant performer, choreographer, artistic director, and teacher of Mohiniattam and Kathakali Indian classical dance styles. Tara has taken her collaborative cross-cultural works from traditional temple venues to prestigious theatres across the world.

In 2009, Tara was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her services to performing arts. She is included in the inaugural Victorian Honour Roll of Women Shaping the Nation for her contribution to Victoria and the country.

8- Puja Nambiar

Puja Nambiar is currently a Director, Engagement and Assurance at an agency of the Australian Public service, with over 18 years of experience in the organization. She says to be successful, the key is finding the synergy between your Indian and Australian identity.

Born in the beautiful state of Kerala, being the daughter of Indian army personnel gave her ample opportunities to live across the length and breadth of India.

Pooja joined the federal government department in 1998 and has been part of the change that has undergone in the cultural setup. She started as part of a team heavily male-dominated, where the meetings would often start with “Hey guys… ” From there she has now reached a stage where she is managing a team. Although still dominated by males in number, she says her workplace is very inclusive towards women.

A practicing Hindu, she is an ardent believer of female energy. “Devi”, she says exists in many forms – Lakshmi for wealth, Sarasvati for knowledge, Rudra when angry. This she says underpins the fact woman plays several roles within society.

She invites everyone to think about not just their educational qualification but all the beautiful things which you bring from India. Understanding to cope up with different skills is a huge advantage for Indians and employers are looking for such skills.

9-Dr Astha Singh

Dr. Astha Singh is a Science Communication and Marketing professional with over 14 years of experience specialising in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) and has shared her innovative ideas at TEDx Sydney 2017. 

She is currently the Managing Editor at Refraction Media  where careerswithstem is an inspiration hub for young people in STEM.

Astha led a nation-wide campaign in 2019 to raise awareness for Diversity in STEM with over 30 leading scientists & innovators around Australia featured on Australia’s Science Channel. As an avid advocate of diversity & equity, Astha has served as the advisory board member at Multicultural NSW, Australian Football League, NSW and has promoted over 100 stories of Australian scientists from multicultural backgrounds. 

Currently, Astha serves as the mentor for commercial research at the CSIRO’s ON Accelerator program and as the President for two not-for-profit bodies: the Australian Science Communicators, NSW and Yuva Australia. 

10- Sahana Ramesh

She is the first India born elected Councillor of Wyndham City Council in Melbourne.

An advocate for diversity & inclusivity in the community Sahana was elected to Wyndham council in 2020. 

“Today’s challenges of gender equality ride on the back of decades of people raising their voices for change. Ours is now the challenge of looking forward and being the change that our forebearers dreamt of. International Women’s Day for me is a reminder that the opportunities that I have inherited in my life have not been earned easily, but rather paid for by my parents and their generation. We should use every opportunity that they have given to us wisely and with respect. And in doing so, let go of the fear, the anger that initiated the change, and imagines and build the society that has true equality and respect for all.”

Cr Ramesh migrated from India shortly after obtaining her Bachelor of Engineering and became an Australian citizen after settling down in Melbourne. 

She went on to study a Master of Business Administration at Melbourne University, and start-up her own company to manufacture Lithium-Ion batteries through which she is actively driving change in our energy, transportation, and liveability industries.